John 4:7-14 NIV “When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
If you’ve ever taken a journalism class, there are six questions that form the skeleton of your story.
Who? Who is the story about?
What? What happens to make it a story?
When? When did the story take place?
Where? Where did the story occur?
Why? Why did it happen?
And how? How did it happen?
Every story told should answer those six questions. In this real-life story, we find that all six questions are answered.
The “who’s” in this story are a Samaritan woman and Jesus.
The “what” is the conversation that takes place.
The “when” is one day at noon.
The “where” is at a well in Samaria.
The “why” is thirst.
The “how” is found earlier in verse 4 of John 4. “4 Now he had to go through Samaria.” (NIV)
This story is familiar to us. In fact, we studied it just a few weeks ago. She’s the object of town gossip. She’s either looked upon as an object of temporary desire or she’s looked down upon. She’s messed up so much that there is no hope of untangling the knot she’s made of her life. The best that she can hope for is to live her life avoiding people, turning a deaf ear to the nasty things said about her, and being content with having no real relationship with anyone.
The Samaritan woman purposefully goes to a place she’d rather avoid, to get something she knows she needs and leaves with something she didn’t know she needed. Jesus purposefully goes to a place He should avoid, meets up with a woman He should ignore, and offers her something she doesn’t deserve.
She has a need. A need for water.
John 4:7 ISV “A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus told her, “Please give me a drink,”
Jesus was already there, at the well. He had been traveling, and in His humanness, He was tired. He was thirsty. So, He asks this woman to give Him something to quench His thirst. She was there to draw water to use for cooking, washing, and of course, drinking. The well, the source of hydration was where they met.
Water is essential for a healthy body. The Mayo Clinic has this to say: “Water is your body’s principal chemical component and makes up about 50% to 70% of your body weight. Your body depends on water to survive.
Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to work properly. For example, water:
- Gets rid of wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements
- Keeps your temperature normal
- Lubricates and cushions joints
- Protects sensitive tissues
Lack of water can lead to dehydration — a condition that occurs when you don’t have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.”[i]
Have you ever experienced dehydration? It’s probably something we’ve all experienced at some point in our lives. We may spend time out in the heat of the day, sweating (or, as we Southern women like to say – “glistening”) and not replenishing our fluid level. Our tongue and mouth may feel dry. Headaches are sometimes caused by dehydration. Other symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, confusion, dry skin, inability to produce tears or sweat, and even irritability. Of course, it stands to reason that the more severe the dehydration, the more severe the symptoms. You can feel quite yucky and just by simply drinking some water feel so much better.
A couple of years ago, I was in the ER with COVID and double pneumonia. I had such little energy that I had not been concerned with my water intake. Shortly after being checked over, they hooked me up to an IV because I was dehydrated. I didn’t know that I was. So many of my symptoms could be explained away by having COVID and pneumonia. Sure enough, once the liquids began to refresh my body, I felt a little better, not great, but better!
“Did you know that a surprisingly large percentage of the population is chronically dehydrated? It is believed that anywhere up to 75% of Americans spend the vast majority of their time dehydrated and are operating at a deficit as a result.”[ii]
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been on the phone with one of my daughters and they would be complaining about a headache, feeling tired and when I ask if they’ve had any water that day, it’s as if a lightbulb clicks on over their heads. A simple bottle of water is just what’s needed.
We sometimes forget to replenish our physical body with one of the most critical elements. Water.
Likewise, we sometimes forget to replenish our spiritual body with the most critical elements. God.
Just like we cannot recognize that we are physically dehydrated, we may not always recognize when we are spiritually dehydrated. And just as there are symptoms of being physically dehydrated, there are symptoms of being spiritually dehydrated.
A dry tongue and mouth are some of the more common symptoms of physical dehydration. With a dry mouth, it’s more difficult to speak. Because there is little to no moisture, plaque builds up more quickly. Sores and infections can form. When you are spiritually dehydrated, you find it difficult to voice your praises. Spiritual dryness can allow pockets of sinfulness to form in your life.
David writes in Psalm 22:15 NLT “My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.” “Symbolically, David writes about weakness and severe dehydration when his enemies surrounded him—his plight is so traumatic that he feels near death. This continues his dramatic prayer during a time he felt abandoned by God”[iii]
Spiritual dehydration can cause us to feel abandoned by God even though we are the ones that neglect the relationship.
Physical dehydration can weaken us. When we are experiencing fatigue, we have no energy to do anything. Even the smallest task challenges us. Spiritual dehydration has the same effect. When we fail to quench our natural instinct to walk with God, and have a personal, ongoing relationship with God, life wears us out. We weren’t designed to go through life without Him. We are familiar with Matthew 11:28 in which Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary.” Listen to The Message translation of that verse and the few verses after it. “28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)
Chances are you’ve experienced that feeling of being tired and worn out. You may notice that the first step in getting relief and being rejuvenated is to go to Jesus. Spiritual dehydration can only be cured if we first go to Jesus.
Physical dehydration can cause dizziness and/or confusion. This can occur because physical dehydration can lower a person’s blood pressure. Low blood pressure can reduce oxygen levels in a person which can create problems for the heart, brain, and other organs. In other words, the body doesn’t work like it should. Dizziness and/or confusion can set in. People affected can’t think clearly. They can’t reason things out. They have difficulty standing on their own and are easily swayed.
Likewise, those suffering from spiritual dehydration are often confused and disoriented. The Bible assures us in 1 Corinthians 14:33 NKJV “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace,” therefore, we know that a flowing stream of God’s Word in our lives keeps us from being confused and easily swayed. J.I. Packer, the evangelist who wrote, Knowing God, said this about confusion in Christians. “Prayer is the cure for a confused mind, a weary soul, and a broken heart.”
“God is the reason why even at the saddest part of life we smile, even in confusion we understand, even in betrayal we trust, and even in pain we love.”
“Confusion and mistakes come when we forget the importance of God’s Word as our unwavering guide.” [iv]
Besides a dry tongue and mouth, weakness and fatigue, dizziness and confusion, physical dehydration can cause muscle cramps and spasms. If you’ve ever experienced a cramp or spasm, especially in the middle of the night, you know the feeling. It comes with little to no warning, and before you know it, you’re trying to get on your feet and walk it off, but it’s difficult. Because when our body is experiencing muscle cramps and spasms, we lose control. A muscle spasm involves “involuntary and forceful contraction” and “may result in an inability to use the affected muscle for a short period of time.” [v] Muscle cramps or spasms can often be very painful and even after the spasm ceases, the muscle is likely to be sore for some time afterward.
When we find ourselves spiritually dehydrated, we lose control. It often comes with little to no warning. When we suppress the urgings of the Holy Spirit within us, we surrender ourselves to our sinful nature. Galatians 5:17 ESV “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” And just a few verses later, “22 God’s Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, 23 gentle, and self-controlled.” (Galatians 5:22-23 CEV)
Physical dehydration is a threat to everyone – from infants to the elderly. It is a condition in which the symptoms can range from mild to serious to life-threatening. Spiritual dehydration is also a threat to everyone – from new Christians to mature Christians. It is also a condition in which the consequences can range from mild to serious to life-altering.
So, how do you know if you’re dehydrated in a spiritual sense?
A symptom of spiritual dehydration is avoiding worship and fellowship with other believers. People who distance themselves from God and from the intake of God’s Word often distance themselves from God’s people, as well.
Spiritual dehydration makes us more comfortable with sinfulness. We make excuses. We try to explain why we do that which we know is wrong. We become lukewarm with pleasing God.
Restlessness. If you are trying all sorts of avenues to satisfy an emptiness, you just may be spiritually dehydrated. By resorting to substitutes, you run the risk of encountering harmful side effects. For example, using shopping as a means to fill a void can lead to overwhelming debt and a lack of satisfaction. Another example may be committing to an unhealthy relationship just for the sake of companionship. There are numerous substitutes that we can attempt to fill our God-void with that will leave us very much unsatisfied at the least, but possibly with less than desirable consequences.
Just as if you are physically thirsty, water is most often recommended because it doesn’t come with possible harmful side effects. Sodas often contain sugar and chemicals. Coffee and tea can provide an unhealthy dose of caffeine. Beer, wine and the like contain alcohol. Milk is, well, just nasty in my opinion and unless you’ve got some Oreos to go with it, I don’t see milk being satisfying in quenching your thirst. But clean water not only hydrates the body but also flushes out toxins in the body. Whereas you can try all sorts of liquids to alleviate dehydration, but some of them may, in fact, do more harm than you realize. Caffeine, for example, dehydrates you. So while drinking an ice cold Coca-Cola may wet your mouth, that caffeine works as a diuretic which, ironically can further dehydrate you. It’s that constant volley of seemingly harmless substitutions for God that we entertain that cause our God-void to grow even bigger. “St. Thomas Aquinas says the four most common substitutes to God that man would “worship” in this world are wealth, fame, pleasure and power. We humans would often think that if we could just fill ourselves a bit more of these “God substitutes” we would then finally be happy. We are on a hunt. The hunt does not take place in the jungles, caves or canyons. It takes place in our hearts. The beast that our heart is hunting is called happiness.”[vi]
The woman at the well was spiritually dehydrated. She certainly knew about avoiding. She purposefully avoided others in her town. She had become lukewarm in pleasing God. She had been married five times already and was living with a man who wasn’t Husband No. 6. And the woman at the well was a classic case of restlessness. Five husbands and who knows how many lovers later, there’s still something missing. Her ideal of fulfillment is so tiny and insignificant compared to what Jesus offers.
John 4:13 CEV “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again. 14 But no one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water I give will become in that person a flowing fountain that gives eternal life.”
15 The woman replied, “Sir, please give me a drink of that water! Then I won’t get thirsty and have to come to this well again.”
She is thinking of never having to worry about physical hydration but Jesus is addressing her spiritual hydration. She didn’t come to the well to meet the Messiah, but that’s exactly what happened. “It was certainly no accident that Jesus met this lady, on this day, at this time, and under these circumstances. Jesus does this with each person He encounters. He meets them right where they are.”[vii]
Going to the well that day was life-changing for the unnamed woman.
John 4:28 CEV “28 The woman left her water jar and ran back into town, where she said to the people, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! Could he be the Messiah?” 30 Everyone in town went out to see Jesus.”
That same woman who lived in seclusion, avoiding people, ran back into town, confronted a crowd, and made reference to what everyone had probably gossiped about her at one time or another. She was so severely spiritually dehydrated that the living water Jesus gave her flushed out the toxins in her life and she couldn’t wait to share it with the people she once avoided.
The story of the woman at the well may remind us of our salvation. That moment in our life when Jesus met us right where we were, caused us to recognize and admit our sinfulness, and offered us eternal life. Our who, what, when, where, why, and how’s are unique for each of us. Our salvation story and all of its components are special. I am a firm believer in “once saved, always saved.” I don’t think we ever lose God’s promise of eternal life if we truly accepted it in the first place. But that doesn’t mean we don’t ever need to “go to the well” again.
We are all prone to spiritual dehydration in our lives. Periods in our life in which we fail to take in our daily recommended amount of time with God. We may or may not recognize our thirst for Him; therefore, meeting Him at the well on a regular basis keeps us from becoming dehydrated.
Jesus invites us to meet Him at the well where He waits for us. He wants us to come to Him and join Him just as we are and right where we are in our life. We may be saved from eternal hell, but that doesn’t make us perfect or righteous. That doesn’t mean that we have flooded ourselves with His Word, His purposes, and His ways. We must continually go to the well to be filled and to flush out the toxins in our lives.
But we don’t just need to go to the well, we also need to drink it all in. There’s an old saying that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. That goes for people as well. Just because someone comes to church every Sunday doesn’t mean they’re absorbing what God has to offer. People often come to church on a regular basis because, well, that’s just what they do. We must take it in and drink His living water through worshipping, fellowshipping, praying, reading His Word, and following Him.
We are sometimes asked about our salvation story and of course, that is the most important life story we could ever tell. But that shouldn’t be the only Jesus story in our lives. There should be countless others that we could tell. Our everyday lives should be filled with trips to the well to be replenished, refreshed, and rejuvenated so that we don’t become spiritually dehydrated. Our everyday lives should contain stories of Jesus and what He’s done. John writes in John 21:25 NIV “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”
But even if you do become dehydrated in a spiritual sense, it’s not too late. No matter where you go, His well is there, and you’ll see Him waiting. Waiting for you. Even if you’re ashamed for letting it get too far, too out of control, He is still waiting. That’s probably how the woman at the well felt.
Honesty is what He wants from us. We can fool ourselves into thinking we’ll never become dehydrated because we’re coming to church on a regular basis, we read our devotions every day, and we bless our food before we eat. However, if we aren’t really taking it in, we run the risk of spiritual dehydration. I can go to Sam’s Club and buy all of the cases of water they have, but unless I take it in and drink it, I’ll become dehydrated. It’s not enough to surround ourselves with Christian and Godly things, although those are good things to be surrounded by. We’ve got to drink it up and we must do it daily! We should make it our prayer every morning that God gives us a thirst for Him all throughout the day; a thirst that cannot be quenched by any other means. After all, He is our greatest need.
[iii] What does Psalm 22:15 mean? | BibleRef.com
[iv] 50 Epic Bible Verses About Confusion In Life (Confused Mind) (biblereasons.com)
[v] Muscle Spasms: What Are They, Causes, Diagnosis, and More | Osmosis
[vi] The Four Substitutes to God (Part I) – Daily Guardian
[vii] Bible Studies for Life, My Encounter with Jesus, by Chad Keck and Argile Smith